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Robert "Buck" Brown

Cartoonist and painter, Robert “Buck” Brown was born Bobby Brown on February 3, 1936 in the “Browntown” suburb of Morrison, Tennessee. His parents, Doris Lemmings Brown and WPA worker Michael Fate Brown, separated when Brown was five years old. Moving to Chicago, Brown attended A.O. Sexton Elementary School and Englewood High School. At Englewood, Brown placed second in an art contest where the winner was sculptor, Richard Hunt. Brown graduated from Englewood High School in 1954. In 1955, Brown joined the United States Air Force and gained notoriety for his cartoons. By 1958, Brown was attending art classes at Wilson Junior College, driving a Chicago Transit Authority bus and sketching the dramas of everyday life. Attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Brown submitted his cartoons to various publications, and one was accepted by Hugh Hefner of Playboy magazine in 1961. Brown graduated with a B.F.A. degree in 1966.

After nearly fifty years, Brown was best known for his cartoons painted in acrylic colors. His famous naughty "Granny" became a permanent fixture in Playboy magazine. Brown, whose fame came at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, drew more white characters than black ones. However, Brown often depicted establishment types, like the U.S. Cavalry besieged by Indians or other people of color.

Brown not only made a name for himself as a cartoonist but also as a painter of humorous paintings. Some of his paintings were part of Bill and Camille Cosby’s art collection. Another celebrity singer, Johnny Mathis, had a wall in his office covered with Brown’s golf cartoons. His cartoons and illustrations had also appeared in Ebony, Ebony Junior, Jet and Esquire magazines.

Brown passed away on Monday, July 2, 2007 at age 71.

Accession Number

A2007.022

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/20/2007

Last Name

Brown

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Austin O. Sexton Elementary School

Englewood High School

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

Kennedy–King College

Edward Tilden Career Community Academy High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Robert

Birth City, State, Country

Morrison

HM ID

BRO41

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

2/3/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Death Date

7/2/2007

Short Description

Painter and cartoonist Robert "Buck" Brown (1936 - 2007 ) was well-known for his "Granny" cartoon, which appeared in Playboy magazine. His other works ran in the Chicago Sun-Times, Ebony, Jet, The New Yorker and other publications.

Employment

Playboy

Chicago Transit Authority

U.S. Air Force

Ebony, Jr.

Dollars & Sense Magazine

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
0,0:4200,36:4980,57:5292,62:11454,210:13950,280:24516,387:41190,540:68342,812:68990,829:82345,988:100454,1192:101945,1233:111060,1346:114870,1354:117334,1388:132389,1586:133803,1607:144529,1722:152772,1820:160118,1878:173377,1988:183920,2140:192390,2263:216099,2571:216504,2577:216828,2582:221230,2626:238936,2822:241582,2866:261015,3150:283577,3369:289210,3404$0,0:2305,16:2851,57:8584,176:25018,338:28550,380:74533,842:89588,1028:90260,1036:98036,1110:123274,1551:124058,1561:124450,1566:134466,1642:161764,2008:162331,2017:176279,2176:215496,2759:216356,2770:224430,2841:226000,2858
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert "Buck" Brown's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Robert "Buck" Brown lists his favorites, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Robert "Buck" Brown lists his favorites, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Robert "Buck" Brown describes his family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Robert "Buck" Brown talks about his relationship with Alex Haley

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Robert "Buck" Brown describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Robert "Buck" Brown describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Robert "Buck" Brown remembers his paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Robert "Buck" Brown describes his family's work

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Robert "Buck" Brown describes his childhood in Morrison, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Robert "Buck" Brown recalls listening to the radio with his paternal grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robert "Buck" Brown talks about haints in Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robert "Buck" Brown remembers his early interest in drawing

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robert "Buck" Brown describes his father's service in World War I

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robert "Buck" Brown describes his parents' marriage and separation

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robert "Buck" Brown describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robert "Buck" Brown remembers the segregated South Side of Chicago

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Robert "Buck" Brown remembers listening to the radio with his brother

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Robert "Buck" Brown remembers Chicago's Austin O. Sexton Elementary School

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robert "Buck" Brown recalls Englewood High School, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robert "Buck" Brown describes his artwork in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robert "Buck" Brown recalls Englewood High School, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robert "Buck" Brown remembers working with Hugh Hefner at Playboy magazine

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robert "Buck" Brown remembers living on his own from sixteen years old

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robert "Buck" Brown remembers his decision to join the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Robert "Buck" Brown recalls racial discrimination in the U.S. Air Force, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robert "Buck" Brown recalls racial discrimination in the U.S. Air Force, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robert "Buck" Brown remembers leaving the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robert "Buck" Brown recalls drawing a caricature of his commanding officer, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robert "Buck" Brown recalls drawing a caricature of his commanding officer, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robert "Buck" Brown remembers working for the Chicago Transit Authority, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robert "Buck" Brown remembers working for the Chicago Transit Authority, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Robert "Buck" Brown recalls attending Chicago's Woodrow Wilson Junior College

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Robert "Buck" Brown recalls how he began working for Playboy magazine

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Robert "Buck" Brown describes his style of painting for Playboy

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Robert "Buck" Brown recalls attending the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Robert "Buck" Brown talks about why he left Playboy magazine

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Robert "Buck" Brown reflects upon his retirement from Playboy magazine

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Robert "Buck" Brown describes the creation of the Granny comic strip

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Robert "Buck" Brown reflects upon the reception of his cartoons, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Robert "Buck" Brown reflects upon the reception of his cartoons, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Robert "Buck" Brown describes racial discrimination in the cartoon industry, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Robert "Buck" Brown describes racial discrimination in the cartoon industry, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Robert "Buck" Brown describes his work with Ebony Jr.! magazine

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Robert "Buck" Brown describes his work under affirmative action

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Robert "Buck" Brown reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Robert "Buck" Brown reflects upon the career of artist Leroy Neiman

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Robert "Buck" Brown reflects upon his body of work

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Robert "Buck" Brown describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Robert "Buck" Brown reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Robert "Buck" Brown talks about his favorite cartoonists

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Robert "Buck" Brown describes his family

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Robert "Buck" Brown reflects upon his career

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Robert "Buck" Brown describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Robert "Buck" Brown narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$6

DAStory

2$1

DATitle
Robert "Buck" Brown talks about haints in Tennessee
Robert "Buck" Brown describes racial discrimination in the cartoon industry, pt. 1
Transcript
Oh, I was telling you earlier when, when the haint story that would always get (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Oh, your brother's [Howard (ph.)] haints, yeah, that one, yeah.$$No, no, no, no, this, this--I, I really don't, I can't identify who it was, but somebody was sick. And somebody went up to see about him. And they got there and everything was dark. It was dark outside, it was dark inside. And so, they struck a match to light this candle, and something blew it out. And, you know, I'm under the cover saying, "Oh Lord." And they struck another match, lit the candle, and something blew it out. Say, "I'm going to light one more match, and if he blew this out, I'm gone," and, sure enough, blew it out. And I said, "Oh, Lord," and, you know, being young and frightened, this scared me to death. It was always something like that.$$Look, it's real dark out in the woods, right, out in the country?$$Oh, that's where they invented dark. We went up to McMinnville [Tennessee] to a fair, you know, a little jive thing what, you'd hit the bottle, throw a ball at the bottles and stuff. And I, I went out with my uncle who had a truck. He had so many kids, that's what he needed to carry them in. But we was asking him, having a good time, said, "Well, we'd better go." So, we drive back with the wind blowing and stuff like that. And we get about a third of a mile from my grandma's house, and I'm waiting for him to turn to go up by grandma's house. And he's--my uncle hollers, hollers back, "See you later, Bobby [HistoryMaker Robert "Buck" Brown]." I said, "What?" I had to get down on that road. I could just barely see the difference between the dust and the, the weeds and stuff, and knowing that I, I was in a rattlesnake valley. And so, I'm tiptoeing, and that wasn't good enough, so I finally broke into a full run, and didn't stop until I got to grandma's house. That gave me a, a description of terror, very, very dark. And yet, you know, we'd be sitting on a front bench some nights, and you hear somebody coming out of the road whistling, you know, singing, and--$$Can you see much by moonlight in that kind of situation? When the moon is full, can you see anything?$$I imagine you can. And if you got things on your mind, other than, you know, snakes, I, you know, I know they get snakes down there 'cause I remember as a--well, before I came to Chicago [Illinois], we were going to a festival at Vervilla [Tennessee] I think the name of it is. And I was riding on the mule with my dad [Michael Brown], and Uncle Doc [Doc Brown (ph.)] had his mule and stuff like that. And everybody stopped, and here's the biggest rattlesnake you'd ever want to see in the middle of the road. So, my uncle got off his mule and got a big, big pole, and did him in. Now, this is early in the morning. And on the way back that night, the, the rattlesnake's tail was still switching, you know, I guess, the nerves and impulses and stuff. And that has always terrified me. That land down here is, is laying fallow, you know. Everybody got up and went north and stuff like that, and moved to town, or what have you. As a matter of fact, we went through there last year. And I counted five or six deer. And I'd never seen deer down there at any time. So, you know, it's, it's going back a while. So, I know, I know the rattlesnakes are going, "Come here, Bobby, come here, come here (laughter)."$$(Laughter).$You were saying that there's, believe it or not, there's racism in the cartoon business?$$Yeah (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, okay.$$I don't, you know, it's not a mean, spiteful thing where it, they look up, and see that you're a boo-boo, and change this thing. They eliminated the characters in my comic strip--just kept the two soul brothers. And, but somebody told me that they were trying to get the syndicate acclimated to where they could sell my strip to the little tiny out-of-the-way, the boonies, and stuff like that. So, you could make five dollars a month off, off of them if you were lucky. So, you know, there wasn't, there wasn't, you, you weren't going to make it as, as a black Jim Davis or a Charles Schulz [Charles M. Schulz]. And so, I couldn't get it to the point where they liked it any longer. And so, one night, we decided to call it a day. And I was tickled to death because, you know, it was driving me up the wall, you know, 'cause I had to be more than what I was, you know. And I was raising hell when it started out. So, I ran into the president a couple of years after, up in Milwaukee [Wisconsin], at a cartoonist get-together. In fact, we were in the same golf cart together.$$Now, who is this, the--$$Mike Cargeria [ph.].$$Okay.$$He was the head of the Tribune Syndicate [Chicago Tribune Syndicate] at the time. And we, finally, after we warmed up and loosened up and stuff, we talk, started talking about it. And I said, "Mike, you know, it don't matter whether I'm pink, purple, or polka dot. I create so much humor in my life. I just want to be able to use that, you know, to, to get something going. I don't have to do a black strip or, you know, or do something about Eskimos. Just let me be funny." He kept saying, "Send me something." So, you know, the newsstands on the corner, the guy selling papers and magazine--okay, I had a little guy who, at one of these newsstands, and he got the newspapers on the front and (unclear). And he deals with the traffic coming in four different direction, and all the different people and stuff, and it worked as far as I was concerned. So, I did it up, Xeroxed it, and sent it off to them. They got it on a Monday. I had return mail Thursday and Friday again. Said, "Buck [HistoryMaker Robert "Buck" Brown], we took your latest submission, passed it around, and we all loved it. And we all agreed to amend that it would work better if it was black." I said, oh, Lord. So, at the time, I had a American Staffordshire Terrier. I kicked him up and down the right path about three weeks, you know, saying, why can't I just be funny? But then, you know, I said, "Well, hey," me and the devil were talking about this. So, I said, "If I want to be a syndicated cartoonist, have something to do every day. I guess I had to make the character black."

James Hiram Malone

Versatile, prolific, retired graphic artist, cartoonist, writer and painter, James Hiram Malone is the founder and director of Laughing Trees, Inc., a non-profit, volunteer oriented organization operated out of his office, studio, and gallery/home in Atlanta, Georgia. Born on March 24, 1930 at the onset of the depression in Winterville, Georgia to Ralph and Sarah Lena Echols Malone, his father (Malone Sr.) in 1932, moved the family to Atlanta’s Buttermilk Bottom with hopes of attaining a better life for Malone and his older brother, Ralph, Jr. With encouragement from his mother and an elementary school teacher, Malone began to express himself visually at an early age. The earliest exhibition occurred during his junior year in high school. During his senior year, his paintings won him international recognition and a scholarship to attend Morehouse College where he majored in art.

Malone tried to attend “White” Atlanta’s High School of Art but was denied admission. Instead, he joined the U.S. Army, and his military career spanned over a nine-year period. Malone became the first person of color to hold the Fort Jackson post of Art Coordinator NCO and an instructor of the 3431 Army Services Unit Craft Shop. Later, he became the U.S. Army Chief Illustrator in the Special Services Division.

Malone left the military and demanded entrance again into Atlanta’s High School art program. Barred the second time, Atlanta’s High School offered him a voucher to attend an art school up north. At Detroit’s Center for Creative Studies Art and Design College, he earned his Associate of Arts degree. He worked for a variety of companies— always the first and only black in the art department. His employment ranged from a one room small agency’s one-man team to an over four acre K-Mart International Headquarters with a team of hundreds. Before leaving Michigan, for Atlanta, he spearheaded fundraising for the landmark African American History Museum; recorded the 1967 riots in paintings, cartoons and writings; created Michigan Chronicle Newspaper’s cartoon, “Brother,” and “I’m Dreaming of Colored Christmas” greeting cards.

Malone was hired by the Atlanta Journal Constitution as an advertising graphic artist, then promoted to senior graphic designer. He created the cartoon panel “Malone’s Atlanta”, and a literacy guide, (Say) “Simply Apply Yourself”. He organized employees’ Martin Luther King, Jr.’s parade celebration, and gave community students motivational lectures.

Among the books Malone has authored are Brother, No Job Dad and Grandma Sarah’s Closet. His publications include the Ralph Syndicated Comic Strip and the Living Longer Comic Strip. He has written lyrics for the songs, “Homeless Hope” and “Willie Lives in the Street” to bring attention to the plight of the homeless and “Talk to Your Child” to encourage parents’ participation in the lives of their children. His poetry is in the book Word Up. Two of his paintings Faith Moves Mountains and Down Yonder serve as a background for the movie Snow Dogs. His cartoons are published in numerous publications.

Malone is an avid community activist, lobbyist, volunteer for Hosea’s Feed the Hungry and Homeless Program and a columnist for the crusading newspaper, Street Beat. He is CEO of Grove Park Arts Alliance and Neighborhood Association; Board Member of Keep Atlanta Beautiful; past President of the International Black Writers Association; Local 22, Member of the Southern Poverty Law Center of Alabama and the RepoHistory Association; the Buttermilk Bottom Project; past chairman, The Atlanta Project Clusters, promoting local neighborhood’s self reliance.

Malone, The Eldest African American Living Native Son of Contemporary Visual Arts in Atlanta, in 2005, organized and curated, “Homecoming: 20th Century African American Masters Art Exhibition” at the City Gallery East, Atlanta, Georgia, featuring twenty-two artists, was sponsored by the Bureau of Cultural Affairs and Laughing Trees, Inc. An ongoing exhibition of Malone’s artwork is at Teaching Museum South, Hapeville, Georgia.

Malone was divorced and was the father of two sons, Andrew Ralph and Matthew Martin, who reside in Michigan. He passed away on April 9, 2011 in Atlanta.

Accession Number

A2005.256

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/7/2005 |and| 12/19/2005

Last Name

Malone

Maker Category
Middle Name

Hiram

Organizations
Schools

David T. Howard Elementary School

Edmund Asa Ware Elementary School

Booker T. Washington High School

Morehouse College

College of Creative Studies

Search Occupation Category
First Name

James

Birth City, State, Country

Winterville

HM ID

MAL03

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Atlanta, Georgia

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

3/24/1930

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Barbecue (Chicken)

Death Date

4/9/2011

Short Description

Cartoonist and graphic designer James Hiram Malone (1930 - 2011 ) was a retired graphic artist, cartoonist, writer and painter, and founder and director of Laughing Trees, Inc., a non-profit, volunteer oriented organization. Malone was an avid community activist, lobbyist, volunteer for Hosea's Feed the Hungry and Homeless Program and a columnist for the crusading newspaper, Street Beat.

Employment

U.S. Army

Better Brochures and Catalogues

Federal Department Store

Laughing Trees, Inc.

Atlanta Journal Constitution and Cox Enterprises, Inc.

Montgomery Ward

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James Hiram Malone's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James Hiram Malone lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James Hiram Malone describes his mother's personality and family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James Hiram Malone describes his father's personality and family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James Hiram Malone describes his grandparents' family backgrounds

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James Hiram Malone describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James Hiram Malone describes the Atlanta neighborhood of Buttermilk Bottom

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James Hiram Malone describes Sanctified churches

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James Hiram Malone remembers Buttermilk Bottom's juke joints and sense of community

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - James Hiram Malone describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James Hiram Malone recalls how the Ku Klux Klan assailed Buttermilk Bottom

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James Hiram Malone recalls the vendors that would visit his neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James Hiram Malone describes the Buttermilk Bottom community and its fate

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James Hiram Malone remembers Atlanta's David T. Howard Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James Hiram Malone remembers lunch at David T. Howard Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James Hiram Malone recalls the elementary schools he attended in Atlanta

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James Hiram Malone recalls a fight in his later elementary school years

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James Hiram Malone recalls moving out of Buttermilk Bottom

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - James Hiram Malone remembers going to the movies as a child in Atlanta

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James Hiram Malone recalls seeing movies at Atlanta's segregated theaters

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James Hiram Malone describes University Homes in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James Hiram Malone describes his early art exhibitions

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James Hiram Malone describes his extracurricular activities at Booker T. Washington High School

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - James Hiram Malone recalls his teenage experiences of racial discrimination

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - James Hiram Malone describes his decision to attend Morehouse College

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - James Hiram Malone describes Morehouse College in the late 1940s and 1950s

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - James Hiram Malone describes changes at Spelman College and Morehouse College

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - James Hiram Malone recalls enlisting in the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James Hiram Malone explains his decision to leave Morehouse College

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - James Hiram Malone describes his placement in the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James Hiram Malone recalls the desegregation of the U.S. Army

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - James Hiram Malone describes the gallery he established at Fort Jackson

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - James Hiram Malone explains the purpose of the art gallery at Fort Jackson

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - James Hiram Malone recalls defying segregation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - James Hiram Malone describes his experience of racial discrimination at Fort Jackson

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - James Hiram Malone reflects upon what he learned in the U.S. Army

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James Hiram Malone describes his role as chief illustrator in the U.S. Army

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James Hiram Malone recalls helping to solve a burglary case in Fayetteville, North Carolina

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James Hiram Malone recalls the military bases where he was stationed

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James Hiram Malone recalls his success as an illustrator while serving in the U.S. Army

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James Hiram Malone talks about his first collection of poetry

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James Hiram Malone remembers the deaths of his brother and mother

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - James Hiram Malone recalls deciding to attend the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - James Hiram Malone describes his role at Better Brochures and Catalogues, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - James Hiram Malone describes his work at Detroit's Federal Department Stores

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - James Hiram Malone remembers the 1967 Detroit riots

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - James Hiram Malone describes his involvement in Detroit's art organizations

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James Hiram Malone recalls his graphic design career in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James Hiram Malone describes his work in Atlanta and his book, 'No-Job Dad'

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James Hiram Malone describes his poetry and books

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James Hiram Malone describes his activism in Atlanta, Georgia, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - James Hiram Malone describes his activism in Atlanta, Georgia, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - James Hiram Malone describes his work with The Atlanta Project

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - James Hiram Malone talks about his father's remarriage and death

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - James Hiram Malone describes his art and activism after retirement

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - James Hiram Malone describes Laughing Tree, Inc.

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - James Hiram Malone reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - James Hiram Malone shares advice for young artists

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - James Hiram Malone describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - James Hiram Malone describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - James Hiram Malone reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - James Hiram Malone narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - James Hiram Malone narrates his photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - James Hiram Malone narrates his photographs, pt. 3

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$7

DAStory

9$1

DATitle
James Hiram Malone recalls enlisting in the U.S. Army
James Hiram Malone describes Laughing Tree, Inc.
Transcript
After Morehouse [Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia], you joined the [U.S.] Army, and where were you stationed?$$Fort Jackson, South Carolina [Fort Jackson, Columbia, South Carolina]. Fort Jackson and that's (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) And where was--$$That's--huh?$$Okay, go on.$$Fort Jackson, South Carolina. It was, it was interesting. But, but what happened is--the interesting thing was when I applied for it. You know, they have what they call these recruiters, and when I, when I went there, I--well, reason why I went there--or what I can say of the job market, but I knew they were going to draft me anyway, you know. I had to go anyway, so I, so I, so I volunteered and went. And so when I got there, the recruiters--they were asking me some questions, you know. I was gonna show 'em my portfolio to--you know, I was thinking that if I show 'em my portfolio that they would be kind of compassionate or sympathetic, know what I was interested in or give 'em my bio, and all that kind of stuff. Boy, what you know. They asked me, "Are you--," you know, they saw that--they wondered why I was a, a member of the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People], and all that kind of thing, they wondering am I a troublemaker, you know, and it, it kind of shocked me and, and, in fact, they, they didn't want to--you know, didn't want me to--they, they was ready to turn me down, you know? And then they, they had a little huddle together--the two, two, two recruiters, and then they, you know, let me go, you know--let me--okayed me. They were gonna turn me down because of my, my portfolio like I had. They thought that--you know, back then, they would--they, they'd, they'd do that. And I, I didn't--I was shocked, but I wanted--really wanted to go so I, I had my chance then to, to not go to service (laughter). God, and I didn't, didn't do it, I could of, I could of stayed out, and they would have--and then they would ask me why, and they said, "Well, I'm, I'm, I'm part--I'm a member of the NAACP," so, so that's what happened (laughter). Now, seriously that's what happened--$Tell us some more of the projects that you have been involved in since leaving the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.$$Well, what happens, I have done, when I left there, there was so many things to do, but I was interested in doing something locally here in District 3 [Atlanta, Georgia] in my neighborhood, and so one day I was mowing my lawn out here, and I said, "Well, sheesh, you know, I get tired a mowing this lawn," so I, I started--looked at the trees and I said, "Hm, you know, those trees, we could do something with those." So what I did, I timidly, embarrassingly, or whatever you wanna call it, put some paint on the trees, you know, just touched it up a little bit. And, and then I, I decided to do some more on it. I said, "Well, I wanna put these trees to work--I wanna decorate these trees." So, I, I painted the trees, and then after I did that, I said, "Well, what I'm gonna call the trees?" So I called 'em laughing trees. And I did this in 1997. Now, I have what we call a Laughing Trees Incorporation [Laughing Trees, Inc.]. I am the CEO, it's a non-profit organization, mission of preserving open spaces and creating indoor/outdoor art projects. It was created and governed and, you know, staffed by completely volunteered people, and I'm gonna--later gonna plan classes and so forth for the local people here, and especially low-income individuals in the area, and I just wanna give them--this is my greeting card to everybody who drive by, walk by, or whatever, bike by, to see and to, you know, give them a greeting card--constant greeting card. And then I--since this been on the Internet, I received some invitations from other people, they wanted--they was interested in this project, so nationally I received word, and also internationally, people have asked me about this, and they want to do the same thing, so that's been gratifying, that's been. That's, that's great.$$Now, some of your artworks have been used in backdrops for movies and--$$Oh, yeah, my, my work is on the Internet and the, and the, a company, the Winterdance Corporation [sic.] in Vancouver [Canada], saw my, my--saw the artwork, and they was sort of interesting because they wanted to do the backdrop, or the background for, for movie houses, and so they, they selected two of my paintings and I sent them the images, and they used them in the movie called 'Snow Dogs,' which came out in 2002. It was, it was--it, it starred Cuba Gooding [Cuba Gooding, Jr.], he was the star in the movie, and it was, the, the, the, the paintings was called 'Down Yonder,' [ph.] and 'Faith Moves Mountains' [ph.]. And it, it worked out good, too. They, they used the images, but I kept the original paintings.

Morrie Turner

Morris Turner was born on December 11, 1923, in Oakland, California, but prefers going by the name Morrie. He attended Cole Elementary and McClymonds High Schools in Oakland and graduated from Berkeley High School in June of 1942.

Turner began drawing caricatures in the fifth grade. In high school, he expanded to creating cartoons. He joined the Army-Air Force following high school graduation, and while on guard duty, he drew cartoons. His work was noticed and he was hired by Stars and Stripes to draw a series, "Rail Head," based on his own war experiences. Following the war, he created community affairs publications for the Oakland Police Department while free-lancing cartoons to national publications. Baker's Helper, a baking industry publication, was the first to buy one of his cartoons for $5.00.

Turner had had no formal art training and sought the advice and encouragement of other professional cartoonists. When he began questioning why there were no minorities in cartoons, his mentor, Charles Schultz of Peanuts fame, suggested he create one. In the early 1960s he created a series Dinky Fellas that evolved into Wee Pals, a world without prejudice celebrating ethnic differences. In 1965, the series became the first multi-ethnic cartoon syndicated in the United States. Wee Pals appears in over 100 newspapers worldwide. On Sundays an additional panel is included called Soul Corner detailing the life of a famous person belonging to an ethnic minority.

Turner has written several children's books including The Illustrated Biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Turner has been honored by the Cartoonist Society in 2000 when he was presented their Sparky Award, has been inducted into the California Public Education Hall of Fame and was recognized by Children's Fairyland in Oakland. He is the subject of a film called Keeping the Faith with Morrie. Bill Keene so admired Turner's work that he added a young black boy to his Family Circle series named Morrie.

Turner passed away on January 25, 2014, as a widower with one son and several grandchildren. He had lived in the same house that his father purchased in 1945.

Accession Number

A2004.041

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/6/2004

Last Name

Turner

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widower

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Cole Elementary School

McClymonds High School

Berkeley High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Morrie

Birth City, State, Country

Oakland

HM ID

TUR01

Favorite Season

Summer

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Keep the faith.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

12/11/1923

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/San Francisco

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Meatloaf

Death Date

1/25/2014

Short Description

Cartoonist Morrie Turner (1923 - 2014 ) created Wee Pals, the first multi-ethnic syndicated cartoon strip in the United States. Turner also wrote several children's books including, "The Illustrated Biography of Martin Luther King, Jr."

Employment

Oakland Police Department

Favorite Color

Turquoise

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Morrie Turner interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Morrie Turner lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Morrie Turner remembers his mother and father

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Morrie Turner recalls his grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Morrie Turner describes his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Morrie Turner details his extended family

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Morrie Turner shares childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Morrie Turner recalls growing up in 1920s Oakland

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Morrie Turner discusses his parents' occupations

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Morrie Turner recounts his childhood recreations

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Morrie Turner remembers a childhood friend

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Morrie Turner reflects on other childhood recreations

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Morrie Turner shares his school experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Morrie Turner relates his childhood fears

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Morrie Turner describes himself as a less than stellar student

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Morrie Turner details how he started cartooning

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Morrie Turner recalls his high school extracurriculars

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Morrie Turner recounts moving from Oakland to Berkeley, California

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Morrie Turner discusses the lack of opportunities for black artists

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Morrie Turner reflects on his childhood job and occupational choices

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Morrie Turner remembers his military service and his first cartoon

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Morrie Turner recalls his first cartoon strip, 'Railhead'

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Morrie Turner details how he syndicated the first integrated cartoon

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Morrie Turner describes the first integrated cartoon, 'Dinky Fellows'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Morrie Turner remembers the first cartoon panels that he sold

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Morrie Turner explains how he learned cartooning

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Morrie Turner recounts his trip to Vietnam to entertain troops

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Morrie Turner discusses nicknames in the Army

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Morrie Turner recalls his cartoons for Ebony

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Morrie Turner talks about the success of 'Wee Pals'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Morrie Turner shares some negative responses to his strip

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Morrie Turner explains how he started 'Soul Circle'

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Morrie Turner describes the creative process behind his comic strip 'Wee Pals'

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Morrie Turner lists some of his other projects

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Morrie Turner reflects on his film about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Morrie Turner recalls working with Fred Rogers

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Morrie Turner contemplates writing books and other media projects

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Morrie Turner remembers his wife's struggle with Alzheimer's

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Morrie Turner expresses his concern for youth and the black community

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Morrie Turner reflects on his happiest moments

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Morrie Turner discusses his attitude towards his work

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Morrie Turner wishes his father could see his work

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Morrie Turner ponders his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Morrie Turner shares some advice to youth

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Photo - Morrie Turner's father and mother, Berkeley, California, ca. 1950s

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Photo - Morrie Turner with his siblings and mother, ca. 1930s

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Photo - Morrie Turner's kindergarten class, Oakland, California, not dated

Tape: 6 Story: 13 - Photo - Morrie Turner and others in the Army Air Force, ca. 1944

Tape: 6 Story: 14 - Photo - Morrie Turner and his wife, Leatha, Berkeley, California, ca. 1940s

Tape: 6 Story: 15 - Photo - Morrie Turner, ca. 1940

Tape: 6 Story: 16 - Photo - Morrie Turner, promotion photograph, not dated

Tape: 6 Story: 17 - Photo - Morrie Turner Day, Oakland, California, ca. 1966

Tape: 6 Story: 18 - Photo - Dick Gregory, ca. 1960s

Tape: 6 Story: 19 - Photo - Morrie Turner with Bill Keane, 2003

Tape: 6 Story: 20 - Photo - Morrie Turner, Washington, D.C., ca. 1976

Tape: 6 Story: 21 - Photo - Morrie Turner with children, not dated